Case Story of Joe Barna
“A mesothelioma doctor had given me Joe [Belluck]’s information, and I called Joe right away. He offered to come to my house the following weekend. He really showed a friendship to me. He made everything easy. Every form that we sent him had the sticky with the arrow, the highlighter, and a return envelope with postage paid. [Belluck & Fox, LLP] did all of the heavy lifting for me. It was an effortless process. And that’s what Joe said, ‘you’ve got more important things to worry about than a postage stamp and getting a return address.’ I’m not an administrative guy, so they made it a no-brainer.” – Joe Barna, client
Belluck & Fox, LLP was proud to represent Joseph Barna in a mesothelioma case that secured him a substantial settlement and the peace of mind that he and his wife would be protected financially.
Early Life and Career History
Barna was born in 1963 and grew up in a working-class family in Chelmsford, Massachusetts. His father served in the air force and then worked at the Johns-Manville plant, and his mother was a homemaker. Barna and his sisters often took extra jobs to help their family financially. Even after graduating technical school in 1981 where he studied the sheet metal trade, he remained as a teaching assistant so that his mother could continue receiving government benefits.
After completing his job as teaching assistant, Barna began working at Northeast Metal Fabricators as an apprentice in November of 1981. He became a mechanic in 1984 and worked at Northeast Mechanical, Lowell Sheet Metal, Burlington Mechanical and Chelmsford Air. Barna regularly installed boilers and removed furnaces, performed duct work and worked as an HVAC technician.
Barna continued working until 2018, when his career was cut short by a devastating diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma. Prior to his diagnosis, Barna lived an active lifestyle, and in addition to being a self-described “worker bee,” he rollerbladed three to four times a week, did 40 pushups every day, attended car shows and enjoyed working on his 1968 Firebird. He also played in several different classic rock bands and was an active participant in the praise band at his church.
In 2018, however, after three cycles of chemotherapy and a serious pleurectomy and decortication surgery, Barna’s quality of life deteriorated significantly. “I haven’t slept probably since May,” he explained at his 2018 deposition. Not only did depression ensue after the surgery, but Barna was left completely unable to work, to do pushups, and to rollerblade in the way that he used to. Every activity left him easily tired, and he and his fiancée Theresa were left only to take long drives and to attend church services. Barna remained upbeat, however, and stated that, “If they’ve got to take the rest of the lung to preserve my mortality, so be it. But I’m grateful… I want to be positive about the whole thing. Either way, I’m going to be okay. Up there or down here.”
Towards the end of the deposition, Barna’s attorney and managing partner of Belluck & Fox, LLP Joe Belluck asked Barna what he called a “strange question.” “During your deposition and today, when I’ve asked you how you felt about something, and what your reaction is to something, you’ve used the word that I think many people would think is sort of an odd word for someone in your situation to use. You keep saying that you’re grateful. Could you explain to the jury what you mean by that?”
Barna paused for a second before replying, “I’m just grateful for every day I have down here, you know… God has shown himself to me during this time. Theresa [his fiancée] and I just scratch our heads going ‘we shouldn’t be amazed, but we are of the people he’s brought us to.’ I don’t believe in coincidences; I feel God is paying more attention [to me]. I know a lot of people need His love and His attention, but… I’m grateful for the people around me. I feel so loved. It’s just a selfless love I’ve been feeling.”
Right before ending the November 13th, 2018 deposition, Belluck came into the camera’s view to offer Barna a guitar. Barna and Joe [Belluck] had earlier bonded over their shared love of music and of the guitar in particular. “When Joe first came to my house, I shared with him that I played in the praise band at church and I played acoustic guitar, so that really sparked his interest. When Joe [Belluck] said ‘bring your guitar tomorrow, I didn’t ask him. I said, ‘lead me by the hand,’ so I walked into the deposition with my guitar case.” Barna ended the deposition with a perfectly pitched rendition of John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane.”
Happily Ever After
Barna married his fiancée Theresa following his surgery in May 2019. He is rollerblading again, playing his guitar, going to church with his wife, doing yard work, and enjoying his good health.